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Battle Aircraft in World War I, Recreate the Battle of Perryville, and Command the Army of Northern Virginia

by Candice Harris

• Sacramento-based wargame publisher Revolution Games has two new 2023 releases shipping as of late June 2023. The first is Mike Lemick‘s 2-player World War I aerial combat game Eagles in the Sky, which can be played as individual games, or played as campaigns. Check out the game description below to get a feel for what you can expect when playing Eagles in the Sky.

Silk scarves. Leather helmets. The sound of the wind in the wires as you cruise over No Man’s Land searching for enemy aircraft. Suddenly you see one, and put your plane into a dive from out of the sun…

Eagles in the Sky is a 2-player card-based game on plane to plane warfare during the last year and a half of the First World War. Players each command a “flight” of 1 to 6 aircraft during any of several types of missions, including patrols, photo recon and even balloon busting.

The game includes all of the major types of aircraft active on the Western Front in that period, including the Fokker triplane, Sopwith Camel, SPAD XIII and Fokker DVII.

Eagles in the Sky may be played in one of two ways: individual engagements or campaigns, in which the players control “squadrons” and complete 5 days of missions, taking into account losses, pilot fatigue and the requirements of higher headquarters.

Each engagement is 8 turns long, and each turn except for the first begins with a random event. These can add or subtract aircraft from the engagement, cause flak fire or other effects. The players then determine who has the initiative and draw a hand of cards based on the number of scouts (fighters) in their flight and the ratings of the flight leader. They then (beginning with the player with initiative) alternate playing cards to activate their aircraft. Activations can be Targeted against another plane or ground target or Untargeted (things like clearing gun jams). When targeting another aircraft the target can play a card in response. Depending on the planes’ ratings and the cards played one aircraft may gain Position over another, which allows it to attack. Attacks are resolved by drawing a card and checking the combat portion of that card to see if the attack succeeds and how much damage it does.

In a campaign each day begins with one player drawing cards to see which particular missions will occur that day. Players then resolve each mission in turn, starting by assigning aircraft and pilots to it. A given pilot can fly as many times per day as the player wishes, but each flight incurs fatigue, which will eventually exhaust that pilot.

Missions are resolved as engagements (using the base rules) or encounters, where each side’s aircraft meet a non-player opposing force. At the end of each day, players reduce fatigue of their pilots, repair damaged aircraft and attempt to get replacements for any planes or pilots that have been lost.

The game plays quickly; a one on one dogfight can take as little as 15 minutes, and even a campaign can be completed in a long evening. Components include a play mat, 140 1″ square aircraft counters, 176 5/8” square markers, 110 cards and numerous play aids and record sheets.

• The other new release from Revolution Games is Jeff Grossman‘s Grand Havoc: Perryville 1862, which is an American Civil War game for 1-4 players driven by the tried and true Blind Swords chit-pull system originally designed by Hermann Luttmann.

Here’s a brief overview of the gameplay and historical setting of Grand Havoc: Perryville 1862:

A Blind Swords system game on the American Civil War battle of Perryville (Kentucky) in 1862. The Blind Swords system uses chit pulls and activation rolls to simulate the command confusion and difficulty of coordinating 19th century armies. Additionally, each turn a number of events can impact the ability of armies to carry out their plans. The basic units are regiments of infantry or cavalry and batteries of artillery which are rated for size, armament, and cohesion/morale.

Perryville was a short fierce battle between Buell’s Army of the Ohio and Bragg’s Army of the Tennessee. While Bragg thought he was facing only a small portion of the Army of the Ohio, he was in fact confronting almost its entirety. Buell thought he was facing all of Bragg’s Army and possibly even Kirby Smith’s Army of Kentucky. Instead Buell was facing only about 2/3 of Bragg’s army.

After an early morning skirmish, both armies assembled on the battlefield just northwest of the crossroads of Perryville. What had been planned as a flanking attack against the Union II Corps instead turned into a frontal assault on the newly arrived Union I Corps, half of which consisted of new recruits. Despite a ferocious battle raging about two miles from his headquarters, Buell was unaware of the Confederate attack and was astonished that one of his corps had been smashed by the vicious assault. Only a few brigades were sent to assist the beleaguered I Corps and the Confederates claimed a tactical victory.

• For another American Civil War game, be sure to check out Field Commander – Robert E. Lee from Dan Verssen Games (DVG), which is being crowdfunded on Kickstarter in July 2023 and targeted to deliver in Q1 2024. Field Commander – Robert E. Lee is the latest game in DVG’s Field Commander series, and it builds upon Dan Verssen‘s solitaire hit Field Commander – Napoleon, which was originally released in 2011.

The publisher’s overview below summarizes new gameplay changes you can expect in Field Commander – Robert E. Lee if you’re already familiar with Field Commander – Napoleon.

Field Commander – Robert E. Lee builds on the design and gameplay of Field Commander – Napoleon to put the player firmly in control of the Army of Northern Virginia during the American Civil War, with the Union forces controlled by an AI.

Fight in 5 Campaigns

Seven Days Battles

Second Manassas

Antietam

Chancellorsville

Gettysburg

Field Commander – Robert E. Lee is based on the Field Commander – Napoleon design, with some important differences and developments.

Difficulty Levels: The player may choose to tailor his experience of Field Commander Robert E. Lee by modifying the Difficulty Level between Regular, Hard and Veteran. There are various ways the difficulty level can affect the game and the player can choose one or more effects, or mix different Difficulty Levels to produce different effects. For example, the player could choose to use the Regular Fog of War table, combined with the Hard Command Points option and the Veteran Special Rules of a particular campaign.

Scout Counters: Greater availability and use of Scout counters to create decision-heavy gameplay and the manner in which cavalry were employed on the battlefield during the American Civil War as compared to the Napoleonic era.

Command Points: Command Points replace Supply Points. Command Points are used in a similar manner however, but represent reforming broken Forces or calling to arms odd Brigades and Regiments that are marching on different roads. Command Points can also be accumulated when a Force reaches certain Regions on the Battlefield Sheet and reflect greater morale.

Union Orders: Each Campaign map includes a Battle Area, which is distinct from the rest of the game board (you can see it described with red borders on the sample map art). Union Forces follow Campaign Map Orders until they enter the Battle Area, at which point the Battle Area Orders table is followed. This simulates more carefully the Union actions once battle commenced properly.

Union Tactics: Aggressive vs Defensive. No more sitting at the back of the Battlefield sheet blasting the advancing enemy. The Union AI will only attack when the odds are in its favor.

Special Battle Plans: An expanded range of Special Battle Plans for the Union AI to use that simulate combat in the ACW. The Union AI will now only charge en masse, while Flanking Fire and Hidden March threaten the rear of the Confederate army. No place on the battlefield is safe!

Capturing Artillery: Rather than Destroy artillery, both the Confederate player and the Union AI will instead capture ‘abandoned’ artillery and use the cannon to their own advantage. Historically this was especially important to the Confederates who suffered at the hands of superior Union guns and ammunition.

Artillery Range Attenuation: The further away the target, the less effective the artillery!

Each Campaign introduces detailed Special Rules that highlight the key events, features and commander personalities of each battle.

If you’re not familiar with Field Commander – Napoleon or the Field Commander series, there are plenty of additional details on the Kickstarter page for Field Commander – Robert E. Lee.

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